“The Pine Planters” is part of Marty South’s reverie written in 1909. The Poem is coupled with the novel ‘The Woodlanders’ which Hardy wrote around the same time. Marty South inspires the character in ‘The Pine Planters’. Marty South is secretly working in place of her father who is ill in bed. Her job is to hold the trees and knows the woods very well. Marty is a plain and uneducated girl, however she closely observes and falls in love with her partner in work Giles. Unfortunately, Giles never comes to notice or observe her love, as he was in love with another character in the novel. I will discuss the main themes of this poem. Some of these are the situation of unrequited love, the personification of the nature and permanence.
We can tell that the poem is a reverie, as the first few stanzas have no caesuras. The absence of the caesuras gives the writer leeway to reveal all her true feelings and to daydream. In a sense, the absence of caesuras mean that there is more room for Marty to really display her thoughts, step by step, without taking breaks to hold herself back.
Hardy’s structure of the poem is very simple and involves very basic language. Hardy might have done this to reflect or mirror Marty South character and personality in the sense that she was only a working girl and not literary intellectual. Hardy’s use of Minimalism in the way that the poem has a very regular rhyme scheme with no notable exceptionalities portrays the effect of plainness on behalf of Marty South. Hardy uses simple phrases such as, ‘We work here together’, and ‘I hold the trees’. These phrases exhibit simple uses of the English Language.
From the first Stanza we can already see the burden Marty carries. Hardy’s use of ‘hold’ carries connotations of maintenance and endurance. Hardy uses this word to symbolize Marty’s long-term work in supporting the man she works with.
In the second Stanza we see the pain of rejection and her undying love for her work partner. The poem reads, “He does not notice that what I do keeps me from moving and chills me through”. This tells us that she perseveres through the pain of her labour only by presence. The ‘chills’ she feels depict the pain she inflicts on herself only to be in the presence of her one and only Giles. She doesn’t mind him not noticing.
In the third stanza, Hardy personifies the ‘eyes’ of Marty South’s love interest, when she says ‘I feel by his eyes’. These quotes articulates the high intensity of love that Marty has for Giles. The line before reads, ‘He has seen one fairer’. This phrase again communicates Marty’s love for the man to the extent that she can judge his emotions for another woman by just observing his eye. The rest of the line in the stanza talk out how Giles ‘skims’ Marty through as if ‘(she) were not by’. One can imply that she feels ignored and is seen by the man as nothing but a worker. In the next stanza Hardy says, ‘The woodland holds him alone’; this phrase suggests the pain of isolation Marty suffers. The ignorance of the man and the isolation he has shown towards her has made her feel no more important than a tree. This is because he does not notice her as a person. Hardy says, ‘He is busy with his thoughts and I with mine’, here we see Marty claiming her own thoughts for the first time. The word ‘busy’ suggests Marty trying to avoid the fact that his thoughts were not circulating around her, and were elsewhere. Hardy’s use of repetition when he says, ‘so many’, creates an effect of emphasis on Marty’s efforts to win Giles’s love, and to reiterate the fact that she deserves his love. Almost like a worker wants his wages. She feels that she has worked for the reward of his love, but has not been given it.
In the second part of the poem the structure of the poem changes. The stanzas are longer as Marty is now finalizing her thoughts and talking about a topic well known to her, nature and the forest. There is a more of sense of flow in the second part of the poem. This is because Marty is describing the trees eloquently with insights. Hardy says, ‘I take each tree, and set it to stand, here always to be’, here we see her describing her job in more detail. This is because her tone and use of language changes. The directness used in the first part of the poem is now gone and replaced with more delicacy. Hardy’s use of a semi colon in the first stanza prepares us for what Marty is going to say next and acts as suspense. This suspense is effective as it makes the reader more intrigued as to what will occur next. The quote, ‘Always to be’, personifies the tree to represent her hopes for the relationship between Marty and Giles. This personification continues when Marty says, ‘It starts a sighing’, this quote refers to Marty ‘ sighing’ to be with Giles. The use of alliteration in the words ‘starts’ and ‘sighing’ are effective in that they place an aural emphasis the motion of trees sighing.
In the second stanza of the second part of the poem, there is also a continued personification of the tree. The tree is mirroring Marty’s emotional struggle with Giles. The poem reads, ‘Grieving that never kind fate decreed it should forever remain a seed’. This quote tells us of Giles’s love not being returned to Marty. Hardy says, ‘ remain a seed’, this quote holds connotations of Marty and Giles’s love not growing and never being able to. This is because the seed is described to be ‘ Unneeding shelter’. This quote could be depicting the infertility of the seed to the extent that it does not need to be taken care of . This , In relation to Marty’s want for a relationship with Giles is saying how the love will never exist if Giles is not caring for her love with his.
Hardy uses the word ‘Thus’ in the first line of the last stanza of the Poem, this confirms Marty finally bringing her thoughts to a conclusion. The theme of the last stanza is mainly about permanence. This is evidenced when Marty says, ‘We set it growing in this bleak spot’, this quote explains nothing will be able to grown from the seed. Hardy use of ‘trapped’ carries connotations of restriction of Marty’s love to flourish. Hardy then goes on to say in the next few lines that ‘it still will grieve here’. This quote is emphasizing her love for Giles being so insignificant that it will die without even experience growth. It will remain in this permanent state of infertility. These quotations also convey Marty’s own state in the sense that she will never be able to recover from her love for Giles. When Hardy says, ‘ Unable to leave here or change its clime’, we see the permanence of Marty’s love not being able to depart from Giles. Hardy talks of the seed not being able to ‘change its clime’, this quote could symbolize Marty struggle for Giles to have emotions for her. However, the still same fry emotions are still felt . The repetition of ‘or ‘ in the next few lines depict Marty’s suffering in the sense that she is thinking of the possibility and the potential the seed she had planted could have had. The last lines of the Poem when Hardy says, ‘When, halt and hoary’. The harsh consonant sounds of the ‘h’ sound with the assonance in the words create an effect of the quick abruptness of the end of a life.